Wednesday, March 30, 2011

March 30: Soul and R&B singer Timi Yuro - "(I'm so) Hurt"- died on this date in 2004...

... she was 63-years-old when she passed away. 

Known as the "The little girl with the big voice," Rosemary Timothy Yuro, was born in Chicago, Illinois, where, as a child, she received voice lessons. Her family later moved to Los Angeles where she sang in her parents' Italian restaurant and in local clubs before catching the eye and ear of record executives.

Signed to Liberty, she had a U.S. Billboard No. 4 single in 1961 with "Hurt," an R&B ballad that had been an early success for Roy Hamilton.

On "Hurt" and on her Billboard No. 12 follow-up in 1962, "What's a Matter Baby (Is It Hurting You?)," Yuro showed an emotional but elegant vocal style that owed a debt to Dinah Washington and other black jazz singers. Many listeners in the early 1960s thought Yuro was black. She opened for Frank Sinatra on his 1961 tour of Australia.

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Very Best ofHurt


In 1963, Liberty released Make the World Go Away, an album of country and blues standards. The singer at her vocal peak, this recording includes the hit title song - which later became one of Eddy Arnold's signature songs- a version of Willie Nelson's "Permanently Lonely," and two different blues takes of "I'm Movin' On."

Yuro was also known for soulful reworkings of popular American standards, such as "Let Me Call You Sweetheart," "Smile," and "I Apologize."

In the 1960s, Yuro made two TV appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and was a guest on American Bandstand, Where the Action Is, and The Lloyd Thaxton Show. In 1967, Yuro appeared in a black-and-white film in the Philippines as a guest star alongside Filipino comedians Dolphy and Panchito in a comedy titled Buhay Marino (Life of a Sailor). At that time, the singer was very popular in the Philippines.

By the late 1960s, Yuro had performed from London to Las Vegas. However, her career soon lost its early momentum, and she quit the music business altogether after her marriage in 1969. When Yuro began to sing again in the 1980s, her doctors detected throat cancer. Her larynx was eventually removed and in 2004 she died of cancer.

Her last recording was the vinyl album Today, which was released in 1982 by Ariola and produced by her old friend Nelson. In 1990, the disc was reissued as a CD, remastered and remixed by Yuro herself on her own label Timi and titled Timi Yuro Sings Willie Nelson.

Besides being popular in the U.S., Yuro was also popular in Great Britain, The Netherlands and other countries. According to the obituary in the Las Vegas Sun, her hometown paper, Yuro's most famous fan was probably Elvis Presley, who commanded his own table at the casino where Yuro headlined in the late 1960s. (Presley had a Top 10 country hit, and Top 30 pop hit, with his 1976 version of "Hurt.")

In April 2004, Morrissey announced Yuro's death on his official website, describing her as his "favorite singer." Morrissey also recorded a version of Yuro's "Interlude" with Siouxsie Sioux in 1994.) P.J.Proby knew Timi Yuro from their time in Hollywood, and often mentions it during his performances of "Hurt."

In 2008, a website was establised by the Official Timi Yuro Association at:

The Official Timi Yuro Association was founded by Timi Yuro and Andy Lensen in September 1981 for her fans worldwide. Its current goals are to promote Yuro's music and legacy by sharing memories, stories, articles and photos, and exchanging information about her biography, discography, rare recordings, and live and recorded performances.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

March 24: Vocalist Johnny Maestro of The Brooklyn Bridge "The Worst That Could Happen" - died on this date in 2010...

... he was 70 years-old when he passed away.

Born John Mastrangelo in New York City, Johnny Maestro began his career in 1957 as the original lead singer of The Crests, one of the first interracial groups of the recording industry. Patricia Van Dross, older sister to famed R&B singer Luther Vandross sang with Johnny Maestro during his tenure as lead vocalist with The Crests.

After a regional hit with "My Juanita"/"Sweetest One" on the Joyce label, and two years of chart success on Coed Records with "16 Candles," "Step by Step," "The Angels Listened In," and "Trouble in Paradise," Maestro left The Crests for a solo career. Maestro was unable to reach his former chart heights with The Crests, but did have Top 40 hits with "What A Surprise" and "Model Girl" in 1961.

The Crests

By 1967, another New York vocal group called The Del-Satins—who had become well-known in the New York area - had made several non-charting recordings between 1959 and 1967 under their own name, and were also noted for backing up Dion on his post-Belmonts recordings—were looking for a new lead singer. Members of the group ran into Maestro at a local gym, playing his guitar, and approached him with the offer to join the group. After initially turning them down, Maestro's manager, Betty Sperber, called Cauchi and told him Maestro had changed his mind.

In 1968, Sperber, owner and founder of the talent management and booking agency Action Talents in New York City, was hosting her once a month Battle of the Bands talent search at the Cloud Nine nightclub in Long Island and brought Maestro along as the evening's special guest star. Action Talents' Vice President and General Manager Alan White suggested that Maestro be backed up that night by a seven-piece brass-filled group of youngsters called The Rhythm Method.

That night's performance was such a success that the next day Sperber decided to combine the talents of Maestro, the four Del-Satins, and The Rhythm Method. The new group's name came about after White made the off-handed comment that "it would be easier to sell the Brooklyn Bridge" than book the proposed 11-piece act.

The Brooklyn Bridge
Johnny and the Bridge rehearsed their unusual combination of smooth vocal harmonies and full horns, and signed a recording contract with Buddah records. Their first release, a version of the Jimmy Webb song "Worst That Could Happen" (previously recorded by The 5th Dimension)
reached No. 3 on the Billboard pop chart. It sold over one and a quarter million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A..

The group's follow up, "Welcome Me Love," and its flip side, "Blessed is the Rain" each reached the Top 50. "You'll Never Walk Alone" and the controversial "Your Husband, My Wife" also reached the middle ranges of the charts. The group sold over 10 million records by 1972, including LP sales, mostly produced by Wes Farrell.

The Brooklyn Bridge downsized to a five-man group, with the vocalists playing their own instruments. For example, Maestro could be seen on stage playing rhythm guitar. The later version of the Brooklyn Bridge released a Christmas EP in 1989 and a greatest hits compilation in 1993, re-recording Maestro's hits with The Crests.

In the early 1990s, Maestro moonlighted as the background tenor on Joel Katz's studio project CD Joel & the Dymensions (which also featured baritone-bass Bobby Jay). In 1994, The Brooklyn Bridge recorded a 10-song a cappella CD.

Recently, the Brooklyn Bridge was featured in one of PBS's biggest fundraising events ever, "Doo Wop 50," performing both "16 Candles" and "The Worst That Could Happen"; the entire program was released on VHS and DVD. In 2005, the Brooklyn Bridge released a full concert-length DVD as part of the Pops Legends Live series. They continue to tour and in 2004 released a CD on the Collectables label titled Today, featuring more re-recordings of their hits and versions of other groups' songs of the 1950s and 1960s.

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The Best of Johnny Maestro: 1958-1985


The Brooklyn Bridge was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall Of Fame with the Class of 2005, the South Carolina Music (Rhythm & Blues) Hall of Fame in May 2006 the Long Island Music Hall of Fame on October 15, 2006.

In 2007, Collectables Records reissued the Brooklyn Bridge album Peace on Earth as Songs of Inspiration. On March 31, 2009, the album Today, Volume 2 was released on CD by Collectables Records.

Johnny Maestro died on March 24, 2010 from cancer in Cape Coral, Florida at age 70.


March 24: Harold Melvin of the Blue Notes - "If You Don't Know Me By Now" - died on this date in 1997...

... he was 57.years-old when he passed away.

Soul, R&B, doo-wop, and disco group, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes were one of the most popular Philadelphia soul groups of the 1970s. Despite group founder and original lead singer Harold Melvin's top billing, the Blue Notes' most famous member was Teddy Pendergrass, their lead singer during the successful years at Philadelphia International.

In the early 1950s, the group began as The Charlemagnes in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They had several hits on Gamble & Huff's Philadelphia International label between 1972 and 1976. They performed and recorded until Melvin's death in 1997. The group changed their name to "The Blue Notes" in 1954, with a lineup consisting of lead singer Harold Melvin, Bernard Wilson, Roosevelt Brodie, Jesse Gillis, Jr., and Franklin Peaker.

The group recorded for a number of labels without success from its inception into the 1960s. The 1960 single "My Hero" was a minor hit for Val-ue Records, and 1965's "Get Out (and Let Me Cry)" was an R&B hit for Landa Records. During this period, the group's lineup changed frequently, with Bernard Wilson leaving the act to start a group called "The Original Blue Notes," and Harold Melvin bringing in new lead singer John Atkins.

In 1970, the group recruited Teddy Pendergrass as the drummer for their backing band. Pendergrass had been a former member of The Cadillacs, and was promoted to lead singer when John Atkins quit the group the same year.

Teddy Pendergrass
With Melvin and Pendergrass, they scored several major R&B hits over the next four years. Among the Blue Notes' most important and successful recordings are love songs such as their breakout single, "If You Don't Know Me By Now" in 1972, "I Miss You," "The Love I Lost," and "Don't Leave Me This Way," and socially conscious songs such as "Wake Up Everybody" and "Bad Luck." "Bad Luck" holds the record for longest-running number-one hit on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart: eleven weeks.

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Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes - Greatest HitsIf You Don't Know Me By Now

Despite success, the Blue Notes' lineup continued to change regularly. In 1974, Melvin brought in Jerry Cummings to replace Lloyd Parks, and female singer Sharon Paige was added to the lineup. While at the top of their success in 1976, Pendergrass quit after an argument over money and unsuccessfully lobbying to have Melvin rename the act "Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes featuring Teddy Pendergrass." Pendergrass went on to a successful solo career, cut short by a 1982 car accident that paralyzed him.

Melvin replaced Pendergrass with David Ebo, and the Blue Notes departed Philadelphia International for ABC Records in 1977. "Reaching for the World" became the group's final major single. Harold Melvin , Jerry Cummings, and new members Dwight Johnson, David Ebo and William Spratelly moved to MCA Records. In 1980 they recorded two commercially successful albums.

Harold Melvin continued to tour with various lineups of Blue Notes until suffering a stroke in 1996. Melvin died on March 24, 1997 at the age of fifty-seven. Brown died on April 6, 2008 at the age of sixty-three of a respiratory condition. In addition, three former members of the group would die during the year 2010. First Teddy Pendergrass died on January 13, 2010 at the age of fifty-nine from complications of colon cancer.

Six months later, original member Roosevelt Brodie, who was the second tenor for the original Blue Notes, died July 13, 2010 at the age of seventy-five due to complications of diabetes. And just five months later in that year, Bernard Wilson died on December 26, 2010 at the age of sixty-four from complications of a stroke and a heart attack. Pendergrass' predecessor, John Atkins, and successor David Ebo, are also deceased.
Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes are arguably the most-covered Philly soul group in history. Many of their hits have been re-recorded by many other artists. Several members of various incarnations of the Blue Notes continue to tour as "Harold Melvin's Blue Notes." Melvin's widow currently manages Harold Melvin's Blue Notes featuring lead singer, Donnell "Big Daddy" Gillespie, Anthony Brooks, Rufus Thorne, John Morris and Sharon Paige.

For his album This Note's for You, singer Neil Young named his back-up band, The Blue Notes, without permission from name rights holder Harold Melvin. Melvin took legal action against Young over use of the Blue Notes name, forcing the singer to change the name of the back-up band to "Ten Men Workin'" during the balance of the tour that promoted the This Note's for You album.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

March 23: Actress and "Singer" Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor died on this date in 2011...

... she died on March 23, 2011.

Beginning as a child star then throughout her adulthood, Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor became known for her acting talent, glamour and beauty; as well as a much publicized private life, which included eight marriages, several near-death experiences, and decades spent as a social activist, championing the cause of AIDS awareness, research and cure.

Taylor, a two-time winner of the Academy Award for Best Actress, is considered one of the great screen actresses of Hollywood's Golden Age. The American Film Institute named Taylor seventh on its Female Legends list.

Taylor was not known as a singer, but she was credited for "singing " in at least two movies, A Little Night Music and "A Date With Judy,"although it's possible her voice was dubbed.
Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was born in Hampstead Garden Suburb, a northwestern suburb of London. Her parents were Americans residing in England. Her parents were originally from Arkansas City, Kansas.

Francis Taylor was an art dealer, and Sara was a former actress whose stage name was "Sara Sothern." Sothern retired from the stage when she and Francis married in 1926 in New York City. Taylor's two first names are in honor of her paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Mary (Rosemond) Taylor.

A dual citizen of the United Kingdom and the United States, she was born a British subject through her birth on British soil and an American citizen through her parents.
At the age of three, Taylor began taking ballet lessons.

Shortly before World War II, her parents decided to return to the United States, settling in Los Angeles, California, where her father established a new art gallery including many paintings from England. The gallery attracted Hollywood celebrities.

Some of her mother's friends urged her to have Elizabeth screen tested for the role of Bonnie Blue, Scarlett's child in Gone with the Wind, then being filmed. Her mother refused, but soon, both Universal and MGM pursued her, with Universal giving her a seven-year contract.

Taylor appeared in her first motion picture at the age of nine in There's One Born Every Minute in 1942, her only film for Universal. After less than a year, the studio fired Taylor for unknown reasons. Some speculate that there was something slightly odd about Elizabeth's looks, even at this age - an expression that sometimes made people think she was older than she was.

Then MGM offered her a long-term contract at the beginning of 1943 and quickly casted her in Lassie Come Home. After her performance received favorable reviews MGM signed Taylor to a  seven-year contract at $100 a week but increasing at regular intervals until it reached $750 during the seventh year.

Her first assignment under her new contract at MGM was a loan-out to 20th Century Fox for the character of Helen Burns in a film version of the Charlotte Brontë novel Jane Eyre. Elizabeth then returned to MGM to film The White Cliffs of Dover in England.

It was Taylor's persistence in seeking the role of Velvet Brown in MGM's National Velvet, however, that made her a star at the age of 12. Taylor's character is a young girl who trains her beloved horse to win the Grand National. National Velvet, costarring fellow child actor Mickey Rooney and English newcomer Angela Lansbury, became a big success upon its release in December 1944. However, the film caused many of her later back problems due to her falling off a horse during filming.

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National VelvetA Place in the SunBUtterfield 8
After the success of Velvet, Taylor was cast in another animal film, Courage of Lassie, which led to another contract for Taylor paying her $750 per week. Her roles as Mary Skinner in a loan-out to Warner Brothers' Life With Father, Cynthia Bishop in Cynthia, Carol Pringle in A Date with Judy, and Susan Prackett in Julia Misbehaves were all successful.

Taylor received a reputation as a consistently successful adolescent star, with a nickname of "One-Shot Liz" (referring to her ability to shoot a scene in one take) and a promising career.

Her portrayal as Amy, in the American classic Little Women was her last adolescent role. In October 1948, Taylor appeared in Conspirator, her first adult role. Her first box office success in an adult came as Kay Banks in the romantic comedy Father of the Bride. She soon followed with A Place In The Sun which became the pivotal performance of Taylor's career according to many film critics.

Taylor would go on to win two Academy Awards for Best Actress for her performance in Butterfield 8 in 1960, and for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in 1966. She was also awarded the Jean Herscholt Humanitarian Academy Award in 1992 for her work fighting AIDS.

On May 16, 2000, in a ceremony held at Buckingham Palace, Taylor was named a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II. On December 5, 2007, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger inducted Taylor into the California Hall of Fame.

In February 2011, symptoms related to congestive heart failure caused her to be admitted into Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles for treatment, where she remained until her death at age 79 on March 23, 2011. She died surrounded by her four children.


Rest in Peace


Thursday, March 17, 2011

March 17: Country singer Ferlin Husky, AKA Terry Preston and AKA Simon Crum died today...

... he was  85 years-old.

Born in 1925 in Flat River, Missouri, Ferlin became well-known as a country-pop chart-topper under various names, including Terry Preston and Simon Crum. In the 1950s and 60s, Husky had several hits, including "Gone" and "Wings of a Dove," each reaching number one on the country charts.

As a member of the United States Merchant Marine, Husky entertained the troops on his ship in World War II. His official website states that his ship participated in the D-Day invasion of Cherbourg.

After the war, Husky became a DJ in Missouri and Bakersfield, California, where he began using the moniker Terry Preston to hide his rural roots. As a honky tonk singer, Husky signed with Capitol Records in 1953 under the guidance of Cliffie Stone, also the manager for Tennessee Ernie Ford. With Capitol Records, he reverted to his given name. A few singles failed before "A Dear John Letter" with Jean Shepard became a No. 1 hit. The followup was called "Forgive Me John."

In 1955, Husky had a solo hit with "I Feel Better All Over (More Than Anywheres Else)"/"Little Tom," and developed "Simon Crum" as a comic alter ego. As Crum, Husky signed a separate contract with Capitol Records and began releasing records, the biggest of which was 1959's "Country Music Is Here To Stay" which hit No. 2 for three weeks.

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Greatest HitsCollectors SeriesEchoes in My Heart: The Early Years

In the late 1950s, Husky had a long string of hits, including the No. 1 "Gone"; in 1957 (he first recorded "Gone" as Terry Preston in 1952, but the earlier version lacked the strings and backup singers of the newly-emerging Nashville sound). "Gone" was a crossover success, also reaching No. 4 on the pop music chart. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.

He then began an acting career, appearing on the Kraft Television Theatre program, in the film Mr. Rock & Roll and bit parts in 18 films.

"Wings of a Dove" became his biggest hit in 1960, topping the country charts for ten weeks and attaining No. 12 on the pop chart. Although he did not have any more chart-toppers, he had more than two dozen hits between 1961 and 1972, with the biggest being "Once" (1967) and "Just For You" (1968).

In late 1972, after over 20 years with Capitol, Husky signed with ABC Records, where he scored several Top 40 hits into 1975 with the biggest being the Top 20 "Rosie Cries A Lot."

In 2010, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.